Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 18 Lake Disappointment

Day 18 CSR I woke up at 5.30 to the sound of drips on the tent and awning. Bob woke shortly after. emerging from our warm, dry little cocoon we were surprised to see the camp enveloped in fog! Completely unexpected out here, it was just like at home in Atherton! Low cloud, dripping trees and thick air. Soon the wind came in and took it all away to reveal big blue skies and another glorious winter day  in the desert. We ate breakfast by last nights BBQ with Jon and Kerrin watching the goings on of the camp and bore while we ate.  Breakfast over we finished packing up and were ready to hit the road. Kerrin and Jon took another 45 minutes to get packed up so we went for a wander around the camp. Bob also discovered that the back right hand shock absorber bush is bulging. Hopefully we get home on it.  We hit the track at 9am heading for well 22. No wildlife spottings this morning so we arrived about 40 minutes later. By this time it was almost smoko and 10am. Enjoying a cuppa in front of the hole in the ground which used to be the well, a land cruiser ute arrived carrying three people. They were very friendly farmers from Victoria heading North. Back on track for well 21 the track was nothing special with hardly any sand dunes and no special highlights. Lunch at well 21 under the shade of some mulga trees.  Today's vehicle spots include the farmers, three Germans near a small salt lake, a couple in a landcruiser and two vehicles just before Lake Disappointment look out, one towing a camper trailer.  Tonight we have stopped about 5 kms before the well 20 turnoff camped in a beautiful location high up with views over Lake Disappointment. We are surrounded by tall desert oaks on the edge of a sand dune, spinafex grass and lots of little finches flying around the trees.  Bob refueled the ute from the tank in back before we went for an explore on the lake. It was down to a quarter of a tank, so it has taken about 50 litres, give or take. The afternoon light is lovely and so different to home. We couldn't resist burning through a few more pixels! The experience of walking on a slat lake is quite strange,like walking on a cake, you sink a certain distance and stop, usually..then there are crystals of salt that have burst up through the lake surface, contrasting the red mud of the surface of the lake with the white salt, and there are lots of desiccated animals, such as frogs and crickets laying on the salt. Whilst enjoying a cuppa after dinner we once again heard some camels calling to each other no too far away.....a freaky sound when you are sitting in the camp on a camp chair, knowing how big a camel can be!

Day 17 big dunes and clay pans

Day 17 CSR A big day today, we drove 83 kms from well 26 where we camped last night to Georgia Bore, 10 kms north of well 22, where we are camped tonight. It was very warm last night and the thermometer read 17 degrees at 6.30 am. Most of the day we have had cloud cover and a sharp wind. Our first stop after leaving the well this morning was a really big sand dune which we walked to the top of and spent half an hour exploring, enjoying the views and taking photos. We continued on crossing three of the biggest dunes on the CSR. One reported to measure 13.9 m . We crossed them easily and continued on towards well 25.  We came across a really cool clay pan with lots of cracked dry mud with groovy patterns on it. We all had a play around there for 15 minutes before the last little bit into well 25. Well 25 was a surprise with most it still intact. The troughing was still held in place with timber supports and the windlass was more or less identifiable. The well had collapsed and filled in. So no water. On our way to well 24 we came across 3 vehicles parked at the base of a dune and one vehicle stuck on top of the dune! The ladies standing around waiting told us the guy stuck on top in the patrol had had four goes at getting over and that there was a Toyota prado with a T-van camper trailer on tow. Once the Patrol was over he was used by the Prado as an anchor point and the Prado driver winched  himself  and camper trailer over. The camper trailer people were not traveling with the the other 4 vehicles. By the time we got to have a go at the track it was chopped to pieces. We drove over easily with a little more revs than usual. Jon had a go next but as the dune was so powdery and damaged he had two goes before backing down and deflating his tyres a little more. Once over we parked at the very end of the run up for the dune and had lunch!  Lunch was cut short by rain! We quickly packed everything up, jumped in the cars and headed on down to well 24. The rain didn't last long, but the skies were threatening and ominous for most of the afternoon.  Well 24, Curara soak is a hole in the ground filled with water. The water was not potable but obviously keeps the local wildlife population from going thirsty. It was a little hard to find this well, so we dragged out the GPS and found via the coordinates on the map. There is a rocky, slatey outcrop above the well which we climbed and had a bit of an explore around. There was evidence of aboriginal tool making at this site which was a lot more convincing than the last  one. We found some cutting type tool and some scratch and run marks on flat rocks. Another vehicle came through the car park while we up exploring. Back on the track toward well 23. We drove through little spits of rain and more big black clouds. Well 23 barely exists, just a few bits and pieces of metal and a big square hole in the ground filled with dirt. We drove the 1km into the fuel dump for a look around. There were about 10 drums there. Nothing like last time when the place was littered with them. Onto Georgia Bore to camp the night. The road was straight and very corrugated. It didn't take long to get there with speeds of around 60 kms/hr. shortly after we arrived 5 more vehicles pulled in to camp the night. We were having a chat to one of their drivers when a second ground of 3 vehicles pulled in and proceeded to camp on top of us! I politely showed them that there was another bigger and better camp site to the south of us. One of the drivers was not happy about me pointing that fact out to him....he got offended that I didn't want three cars parked next to our tent. He got the hint though and they are now camped about 250m away. Kerrin and Jon have collected firewood and prepared the BBQ for an after dinner fire. Soup with noodles for dinner for us. It is a warm evening so far.......


Day 16 tools or no tools?

Day 16 CSR Not as cold last night, 12 degrees greeted us this morning. The usual brekky then away at 8.15, our earliest start. First stop only 5 minutes up the track where Kerrin spotted another Thorny Devil having a sunbake on the track. Bob and I walked back to have a look at him and take some photos. Ten minutes later Kerrin, the wildlife guru, spotted a camel standing atop a sand dune right next to the track. By the time we stopped and got the camera he was heading over the hill away from us. We got a couple of shots though. Morning tea was at Mt Helen. We admired the rock massif whilst enjoying a cuppa, then headed up the rocky slope to check out the view. It was worth the climb with 360 degree views from the big square rocky outcrop. We saw a vehicle pass us heading north on our way down the slope. Back on the track we continued on well 27 and then a further 2 kms ish to the native well and former aboriginal tool making site. I am suspicious of the tool making site as there were a lot of sharp rocks made to look like cutting tools but no sign of where they had been made. No grooves in the rock. As we were leaving the native soak two troopies arrived on a tag along tour. The front one driven by a German tour leader. Otto asked us if we had seen a German couple driving a white troopie? We had seen them last night at well 28 when they briefly stopped then continued on. Otto said he wanted to catch up with them......... Lunch back at well 27 before continuing on down the track. Shortly after leaving the well we came across two vehicles heading north. Four blokes, a tonne of fire wood and LOTS of beer.......we pulled off the track to let them pass. About half an hour later we heard chatter on the radio and. We called them up. They were heading north as well. We pulled over at the Slate Range to wait for them to pass. When they finally arrived there were three vehicles. Stories and fuel prices were exchanged. The plot thickened with regards to Otto. The young German couple he was looking for had asked this group if they had a map?!  Back on the track and heading for well 26 for our camp for tonight. We arrived around 4 pm and again we have the entire place to ourselves. We retrieved some water from the well to wash ourselves and some clothes. The sunset was again a sight to see with a pink and orange sky scattered with streaks of cloud. The well has been restored again since the last time we were here, it is now made with treated pine, as the termites appreciated the last timber that was supplied to them. The water is very clear, so we topped up the drinking containers and used some more for washing. There is even a toilet here now! It was installed only a few weeks ago, and has a little trailer under it, so that it can be wheeled away when it is full. Not sure who is going to volunteer for that job! Dinner tonight was chicken and fried rice and chocolate mousse from Kunwarritji....YUM! Cloud cover as we go to bed is making the temperature quite warm and bearable.  A sensational sunset once again.

Day 15 CSR it's baaack....

Day 15 CSR A temperature of 4 degrees greeted us at 6am.....brrrrrrr! The camels did not Harass us, after their little show last night. The gurgling and grunting only lasted a few minutes, but it did put us on edge for a while. Made a little fire to boil the kettle for smoko, tea and washing up. Our porridge went instantly cold, as always.  It is such a beautiful place well 30,the blood wood trees are so majestic after the stunted growth of the plains. The bird life is incredible as well, the birdsong that woke us was beautiful. It was out turn to hold up the show for while today, the roof racks have been working forward, so I adjusted them and we moved the shovel over to the drivers side, to see if that makes a difference.  Almost immediately after leaving the well, the blood woods end and we are back in the low scrub. We emerged onto a flat plain, with only spinifex and termite nests for a view, soon after that, we were back in the dunes, and happy for it. Those laterite ridges on the track make for very slow going, trying to look after the tyres.  The next big feature is King hill, which we did not visit, and Thring rock, which we did. Both features are named after members of the Burke and Wills expedition. We walked to the top and admired the view. We could see the sand hills to come as we travel south, and Lake Auld or Lake George, out to the west. The map doesn't make it clear which one it is, and to our east the breakaways which Thring rock is a part. The rock is very unstable, but a beautiful deep red. It was amazing how much windier it was only 100 feet above the clay pan on top of the rock. Not much plant life up there, a few hardy salt bushes is about it. Back into the sand dunes, a pleasant experience after the rocks and ridges of yesterday. We pulled into well 28 about 2.40pm, and decided to have an early day. Well 28 is a lovely place, although there is no water the collapsed well is surrounded by tea-trees, and sits between to sand ridges that run east to west. Lucky we did, as just after we pulled up, the inverter let us know it wasn't happy by making that horrible squealing noise that indicates it doesn't have enough power. Sure enough, the fridge was running and the temp inside was slowly rising. Our electrical gremlin was back.... I pulled out all the tool boxes and without any real idea of what I was doing, started pulling things apart. Eventually, we discovered that it wasn't the circuit breaker we suspected last time, as even a direct connection wouldn't work. I then undid the power cable on the solenoid and received an electrical tingle through my arm, indicating the solenoid isn't earthing properly. I undid all the cables and did them up again, the outback equivalent of rebooting, and away it went!! Not sure what has actually been fixed, but it has been fixed and that's the most important thing. We will see how long it lasts this time. Jon dug and enormous fire pit so to christen it, we dug out our dinky camp oven and made a chocolate damper. We have certainly lost our camp oven cooking touch these last few years, as it was burnt to a crisp... We decided that a flash restaurant would say it was chocolate damper on a charcoal base, so we went with that. The UHT cream we pulled out to go with it has been whipped by the corrugations! Also did some start trail experiments with the camera, have had mixed results to be honest....

Day 14 a thorny problem...

Day 14 CSR
A comfortable night sleep in the cabin at the community, we were up at 6am and headed straight for a hot shower! Why's there and it will be two weeks till we get the chance again. Breakfast of porridge and some toast before repacking the car and preparing to hit the track again. By the time we left the community it was 8.15. As we pulled out Jon and Kerrin were hopping in their car ready to follow. We headed out to the turn off to head south to Willuna via CSR....we waited there for about half an hour thinking J & K had stopped for a chat with Graham who was at the bowser as we drove by. They did stop to take a photo of the sign and then promptly ignored the sign and headed off in completely the wrong direction! We headed back to the community to see if they had a CB  radio with a greater range than 3kms but they don't so we just waited by the the side of the road hoping they would work it it out....they did and turned up shortly after.
So......departure time was 9.15. Back onto the CSR we drove over the not so deadly corrugations that everyone had been whining about. First well was number 32 but we couldn't find the correct track in, so continued on down the main track. Half an hour later after a bit of exploring and GPS searching we found Well 31. We combined smoko with lunch and ate at 11.30 under a great big snappy gum right next to what remains of the well.  Back on the main track we headed off for well 30. It was slow going over very rocky limestone with nasty crunchy bits all over the track. Top speed for this 30 kms section was about 15 kms per hour due to low tyre pressures and the chance of a puncture on the sharp rocks. We turned off at well 30 to drive the 4 kms to visit the Munjingerra cave. On the way in we almost ran over a Thorny devil lizard! The most amazing looking little guy, so cute, but spikey at the same time! We all took photos and then  moved him off the track as there was no way possible to drive around him. Not 50 metres up the track we spotted another devil! This one a bit fatter and bigger than the last. Neither were shy and sat there posing for our photos. We moved this little guy off the track, jumped back in the car only to be stopped again another 50 meters down the track by a herd of camels! There were seven altogether and they we just as interested in us as we were in them. They are big, furry and smelly with gorgeous big brown eyes. There were a couple of young ones in the mob and a big one watching over the proceedings, protecting his girls I think. Anyway, we finally got to the cave and it looks nothing like the last time Bob and I were here so many years ago. The roof of the cave has collapsed, due to a four wheel drive parking on the roof we have read. There was also a lot of vegetation around the cave which we don't recall being there last time. Jon climbed down into a small sink hole, hoping it lead to the main cave with no joy, before we all decided it was time to find a camp spot for the night. We headed back to Well 30 where we are now camped under a stand of blood wood trees. The sun disappears around 5.15 pm and it gets cold quite quickly after that. Another spectacular sunset to enjoy whilst enjoying a cup of tea. Then a dash to the car to don several layers of clothing to ward off the chill. We had a camel near camp, just after dusk, he gurgled menacingly (if it is possible to gurgle menacingly) and we haven't heard him (or her) since.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 13 shower time!

CSR Day 13
We got woken a few times during the night by rain drops on the tent. Not heavy, but just enough to make everything damp and muddy. Not something you expect in the desert!  No sunrise today with the cloud cover, so we packed the tent up first, leaving the awning available to sit under for breakfast. It was much warmer last night as well, so the rain did have some benefits.  We hit the track around 8.45 am continuing on from yesterday's lovely scenic  run along the sand dunes. The track is very tight, twisting and turning, almost back on itself at times, through lovely desert oak stands. Lots of camel, dingo and bird footprints in the sand, but couldn't sight any of the owners.  Well 35 eventually turned up, after a bit of mucking around with GPS to find the right track in. The well itself has long collapsed, as have most of the wells, and there is only a bore cap with water about 1 meter below the surface. Apparently the water is OK, but we decided not to try our luck.  We had smoko just near the well, and then continued on south. The track takes a sudden right turn about 4km from the well, and the country changes completely once again. Suddenly you are out in flat country, with the spinifex so tall it blocks the view. The plain continues all the way to Kunawarritji. We hit the fastest speeds of the trip so far, getting up to 60kmh in a vain attempt to defeat the corrugations. Straight and narrow, the track spears across the plain, with only the occasional diversion around a fallen tree. No nasty little turns or sudden direction changes, so we could maintain the speed easily enough. A quick stop at the well 34 junction, to check the roof racks and dampers ( pretty hot) and away again. The corrugations are bad, but not the worst we have experienced. Being able to travel relatively quickly meant the punishment was only short. Our arrival at well 33 was noticed by the galahs and finches drinking at the overflow of the windmill, and that was all. The area had been modified since our last visit, with bollards and a camping area around the windmill. The old windmill foundations can still be seen, and there is a modern plastic water tank. The overflow of the windmill still flows out but is now collected in a ditch and is enjoyed by the local wildlife, including camels. We met the local school teacher, Lynn and her husband Tony. They had arrived to water a boab tree that Tony has planted and is desperately trying to stop the camels from trampling it. We got the rundown on the community and decided to head in. Unfortunately, the community does not have many residents at the moment, due to a funeral being held for a 14 year old local girl who was killed in Newman.  We pulled up at the fuelling shed, and waited while the truck that delivered the fuel to the community fuelled up! Luckily, he only took 1,200l, so we didn't have to wait long! Fuel is $3.40 per litre, and we filled up with 104 litres. Not sure what our fuel economy has been, but it has been pretty good. Jon bought 100 litres, but didn't fill all the way to the top on one tank. We drove the short distance to the shop, parked and went shopping! The community shop is very well stocked and considering how remote it is, reasonably priced. We stocked up on a few things we needed, and a few things we didn't need, just for the novelty value!  We paid for a shower and washing machine and got stuck in. We now smell a whole lot better than we did! The accommodation block is new and very impressive, with 6 rooms and attached shower and toilet block. We decided to lash out and stay the night, as it would be too late by the time the clothes washing was done to go back anywhere to camp, and besides, we wanted to smell nice a little longer. We got chatting to the truck driver who delivers the fuel, he is based in Alice Springs and hasn't been home for 6 weeks. He loads in Alice, drops fuel all along the way, including road camps and communities. If he gets the chance, he shoots some camels close to the community and helps them bring them in. The accommodation is very tidy and clean, just what we needed after the days in the scrub. We have washed and scrubbed everything in sight, and re-charged batteries and cameras. The community generator has been running red hot! We even got to watch TV!  Well, 5 minutes worth, which was long enough to work out not a lot has changed while we have been bush, so we turned it off. We met a couple of blokes traveling the Canning south to north, staying here as well. Believe it or not, they are both from Ravenshoe! They gave us the report for further south and updated us on Scotty, the jeep owner (not as far south as he wanted to be, and his mate with the mechanical issues is still holding them up) and the two camper trailers just in front of us. Lots of camels to look forward to further south, as well as some cold weather. As well, they have said to keep the radios calls happening, as not many people have been answering their calls, and Tony and Lynn mentioned a head on collision near well 30 about 6 weeks ago. Time to be more careful! We have topped up the water tanks, so both vehicles are back to maximum weight for the trip. Tyre pressures may have to be adjusted in the morning, we'll see how we go. Clothes are dry and batteries recharged, we should be all back to normal tomorrow. We had a yarn with Graham, the town jack of all trades. He has been here for 5 years, and helped to build the accommodation block., he also runs the shop and fuelled the car up.

Day 12 sand and rocks

CSR Day 12 
The wind really kicked in during the night, Jon got fed up about 3 am and we could hear muffled cursing as he decided the fly on the tent had to go! We had camped on a high plateau so the wind whistled through camp. We awoke to a spectacular sunrise, the best of the trip so far. Beautiful high cloud streaked across the sky, even Tracey got out of bed just to see it... We packed up and read while J & K re-organised the back of the troopie.  The track today was a real mixture, as it has been every day. Every time there is a chance to accelerate the corugations kick in, so the slow speed stuff is a real relief. The track goes from rocky to sandy, and back almost as quickly as it takes to read it. Lots of beautiful sand dunes to cross, both cars are doing it easily now the tyre pressures are around 18 psi, some don't even need 4wd. Our first stop was Wardabunni  rock hole. It is a hole on the creek bed, hidden amongst the ghost gums and red rock breakaways. Canning blasted the floor out to make it deeper, but it has since silted up again. It must have been a pretty horrible place to bring cattle, as access is difficult. We went a little berko with the cameras here, the combination of red rocks, white trees and streaking high cloud got everyone's creative juices flowing, there should be some lovely shots.  The track goes back to the dunes, and we got some excellent footage on the videos. We had smoko at Wandurba rock hole, actually a cave near the waterhole, but we didn't see the waterhole itself. It was very pleasant sitting in the cave, looking out over the spinifex valley below. There is what looks like aboriginal art on the entrance, but it looks pretty new, so not really sure if it is genuine. Would be nice if it was though! Well 37 was our next stop, the well itself isn't very scenic, but the finches weren't too worried by our presence, and kept leaping down into the well, under the tin lid. Lots of little bird bodies floating in the water relayed the message that this is a dangerous thing to do, but they flocked in their hundreds , all lining up in orderly little finch lines, waiting for their turn.  We stopped in a lovely patch of desert oak forest 2 minutes from the well for lunch, just missing the 4 vehicles heading in. the temperature difference in the shade has to be experienced to be believed, out in the sun a few minutes is all you can take, but under the desert oaks, it is jackets all round! The track was changed in 2003 to run along the sand dunes south of well 37, due to flooding in the lower parts around the salt flats. It is a roller coaster ride along the sand, we even spotted a bustard grazing in one of the lake beds. Well 36 is supposed to contain good water, but again the little floating finch bodies told a different story..Tracey spotted the body of the camel that was pulled from the well last year, and lots of toilet paper people couldn't be bothered burying. All in all, not a pleasant place to spend too much time!  A few minutes down the road, J & K's troopie slammed to a halt, both doors flew open and they both leapt from the troopie, Kerrin yelling fire! Tracey quickly grabbed our extinguisher and we rushed over. The inverter had started to smoke profusely, causing everyone to jump to action stations. After it was established there was no fire, Jon said the fire drill went well, with all of us neatly assembled in the emergency area, fire extinguishers in hand! We really don't need that sort of excitement out here!
We are camped just down the road, in a little sand gully.

CSR day 11 finally a fridge!

Day 11
An excellent sleep last night with not much wind to keep us awake flapping the tent! There was just enough to dry the clothes though. The usual for breakfast before pack up and an extra bucket of water from the well. Whilst eating breakfast we watched a lone camel trotting over the next sand dune. He stopped long enough for us to get a photo before disappearing over the horizon. Bob decided to have a look at the auxiliary battery one last luck in finding a problem. We decided to use the sat phone to ring Garry to get the number for the auto electrician who who fitted the second battery.
Two phone calls later, a 30 amp fuse, some fuse wire and a fuse holder from Jon and the problem was solved. The circuit breaker installed for the battery isolator had failed. Bob and Jon made a new circuit breaker and wallah! We now have cold stuff!
The auto electrician was very good, he went through each component and working out different scenarios, making me short things out with a price of wire, until we narrowed it down to the circuit breaker. We have actually bypassed the circuit breaker, using an extra fusible link Jon had under the bonnet.  So, we didn't actually hit the track till about 10am.  Scotty and the worlds most expensive jeep ($130,000) with his mates arrived as we were fixing the battery and departed shortly before us. We caught up to at the intersection to the well turnoff where one of the Jeeps required a brake fluid top off. Bob has some handy and let them use it. They fired up and headed off  in front of us. They were traveling a lot faster than us and planned to be 30kms north of well 33 tonight.
We visited Michael Tobins grave at well 40. He was speared by an Aboriginal man at the exact moment he shot and killed the Aboriginal.  The aborginal whom he shot and killed does not appear to have a grave, and there seems to be no record of him. 
The incident is vividly described in the book 'The beckoning west The story of Hubert Trotman and the Canning stock route' by Eleanor Smith
Had lunch at well 40. Not a lot of the well left. The salt lakes have formed in the last few years, making for a desolate scene at the well. the walk up to Tobins grave is very pleasant, much nicer than driving.
We headed south towards well 39, which was a hole in the ground with a tree growing over it. In the tree there were heaps of little finches surviving off the small amount of water in the bottom of the muddy well. On our way to well 38 we had a walk over a big red chunky rock outcrop. Kerrin had a fall skinning  her pinky finger and hurting her thumb.  Tonight we are camped on the side of the track about 20kms north of well 39. The wind has died down and we enjoyed  watching the big orange moon rise over the landscape while eating our dinner. After dinner Bob and I had a play around with the camera and did some light painting of the tents and surrounding landscape. We got some very cool shots!

Day 10 dingoes and budgies

Day 10 As we sit at well 41 enjoying our dinner the  full moon is rising over a distant sand dune in a spectacular haze of purple and orange light. As it rises higher in the night sky it appears to be a partial eclipse. The bottom right quadrant has a shadow in front of it, increasing in size.
We were up and at 'em around 6am, porridge for brekky, a quick pack up of the tent and hit the track at 7.45. We met Jon and Kerrin about 15 minutes down the track where they had found a nice camp site. They were packed and ready to leave. Jon had a test light that was easier to get than mine on board so we checked the voltage in the auxiliary battery....not a lot...well..not enough anyway. We shut the bonnet in thorough disgust and decided to have a good day anyway! LOTS and lots of sand dunes today. Our guide book said between wells 43 and 42 was the longest section between wells with the most amount of sand dunes and the highest sand dunes on the CSR, some measuring almost 17metres high. We did well though and didn't miss a beat over any. We saw another dingo today. This one not as friendly and was keen to get back to her hideout. We spotted her near tank 42 Guli Lake where the book says there are very large rabbits! The dingo would be well fed judging by the size of the rabbit burrows we saw on the southern edge of Guli Lake! Morning tea at Guli Tank 42 where we were entertained by flocks of emerald green budgies flitting and swooping all over the place. Meanwhile two miserable looking major Mitchell galahs looked on without much interest! Continuing on we found a great spot for lunch under a stand of shady gum trees. Just as we were about ready to depart we heard some radio chatter, ten minutes later a tag along tour arrived......10 four wheel drives of various description, makes and models came lumbering over the sand dune and into our  shady lunch spot! A quick chat to the guide revealed the two vehicle in front of us are towing trailers and finding the dunes hard going. We were also filled in on the story of the abandoned Jeep we saw yesterday....apparently he ran out of fuel and just got out and started to walk! We thought the whole thing looked a bit strange! Onward ever southward we continued, finding well 41 at around 3.30. We decided to set up camp, have a wash with water from the well and hand wash some clothes. Hopefully they will dry by the doubt they will, it very dry out lips and skin are not used to this dry climate!

Day 9 real sand dune country

CSR Day 9 Early rise 6.15am for us, 5.15am for Jon and Kerrin. Breakfast of porridge then pack up and away from camp at 8.15am.  We had camped at the base of a sand dune so two minutes after departure we climbed a sand dune!  We could hear over the radio a couple of camper trailers having issues in the dunes but they soon faded from radio range. Today we saw two broken jeeps. The first one was  a complete mystery. Parked beside the track containing the owners clothes, some ID and other personal items. The radiator was full of spinifex grass seeds but no sign of anything fires or indication of breakdown. It is as if he has just got out for a walk. The second jeep however was a burnt out shell which had been rolled onto its side to unblock the track. The policeman in Halls Creek told us the driver was ok.  Today we visited wells 46, 45 and 44. Near well 46 a dingo came to have a look at us. She was very inquisitive  and not very afraid. We got lots of photos then continued on to the well. Well 46 was fully restored in 1998 & 2002 but some one had stolen the bucket so no water for us. We had morning tea at well 45, just a hole in the ground with a rusty old bucket to mark the place. We drove over lots of sand dunes today. I walked up some of them to get some video and photos. Tyre pressure were reduced again to 18psi on both vehicles. We could hear other people on the radio having trouble on the dunes, but we did OK with only one or two requiring a second attempt. At around 4.30 we spotted a camp site at the base of a sand dune about 20kms from well 43. Bob and I have camped for the night here, Jon and Kerrin have continued on as they couldn't find a place to turn around. They will camp further up the track and hopefully find somewhere to camp before it gets dark. Lamb and vege soup for dinner whilst watching the almost  full moon rise above the sand dunes.  After dinner we re-fuelled the car with fuel from the big tank in the tray.  We think the second battery is buggered as it has not recharged after 3 days of driving. So, no fridge. We will see if there is a mechanic at Kunawarratji to check the battery then decide what to do from there.

Day 8 CSR Breaden Hills

CSR day 8 Late getting away, discovered the terminal on the battery was loose, hopefully that will fix the fridge, and fabricated a new sand flag to replace the one lost yesterday this one lasted about an hour before also being lost... Let some air out of the tyres yesterday to take the edge off the corugations, and let some more out today. Breaden hills was the stop of choice today. We got to visit both Breaden pool and Godfrey tank. Both natural water holes on gorges behind Breaden hills. The finches kept us entertained. They come to drink in their thousands, the air vibrating with their wing beats. Also spotted what looked like a peregrine falcon hunting the finches. More finches at Godfreys tanks  as well as a grinding stone, used by aboriginal people to make spinifex flour. Had lunch at Breaden pool and got going late. J & K wanted to get to well 46 but last thing, right on dusk we came across two massive sand dunes that held us up for ages while we dropped pressures, etc. Finally, we got over them, but it was dark, so the first available spot, we have pulled over and camped.

Day 7 CSR

CSR day 7 Wolfe creek to well 49 via Billilinu. We set off from wolfe creek about 8am. The road is very open and in good condition, so we got to Billiluna in no time at all. Scotty had told horror stories about fuel at Billiluna, and how you had to pay for it, even if you didn't use it. We had to wait for Harold to fill up the town grader, but you estimate how much you need and the pump stops when you reach that amount, easy! The mandatory CSR sign photo and we were actually on the track. A little way down the track, we stopped to attach sand flags and Jon attached his spinifex shade cloth to the front. The track is very rough, very corrugated. The shock absorbers ran red hot all afternoon. It was actually really dangerous, as the track is so rough it becomes necessary to travel around 40kph to get above the corugations, but then you are traveling too fast to actually see anything, and to quick to stop if someone is coming the other way. A real find of the day was after lunch at well 50 Kerrin's guidebook suggested a place called Calverda soak about 4 k's from the clay pan of well 50. It is actually incredibly beautiful and a real highlight. It is about 700m walk and the soak is up a side gorge with aboriginal petroglyphs. Just awesome. We are camped tonight at well 49 we have hauled some water up and discovered our fridge isn't working...

Wolfe Creek, the crater not the movie!

CSR day 6

We actually slept pretty well last night, both of us toasty in our sleeping bags. Up just before sunrise, we packed up slowly, not really wanting to get back on the road. The roof racks needed adjusting, the corrugations giving them a workout. Other than that, we are travelling well. A little way down the road, we tried to charge the computer on the inverter, but it told us we didn't have enough power... it appears that we have used too much power yesterday, charging things up. The fridge isn't working very well, the same thing that happened in Cooktown. Because we only drove as far as Wolfe Creek, about an hour down the road, the battery didn't get enough charge to keep everything running smoothly.Bugger, bugger, bugger. We decided we had had enough and set up camp in the camping area. After lunch, we decided a walk was in order and set off over the lip of the crater and across the bottom. It is actually really beautiful, lots of wildflowers of all variaties and shapes and sizes. Against the red rock, we soon had the digital cameras running hot!

Across the other side, we ascended the ridge and up to the lip. Suprisingly, the other side has almost no lip, it is the same height as the crater. We turned left, and followed the lip all the way back to the path. It is a beautiful walk, well worth the effort. We have turned the fridge off, as there is no point all it is doing is running the motor for no good reason.

CSR finally underway!

CSR Day 5

We woke early and decided to walk into town to the bakery, a lovely walk along the lake edge, sun rising over the red ridges to the south. We all needed to do some last minute shopping and met in town behind Coles about 9.30am. Finally, it felt like the trip is actually getting underway! Across the diversion dam and away! The first part of the trip was following a three trailer road train. It was impossible to get passed him once he got a head of steam up, but we managed to get around him as he was accelerating from a corner.

The scenery is spectacular on the way south, just beautiful. We stopped at Doon Doon roadhouse for a spell, and then a roadside stop for lunch. We hit Halls Creek about 3pm, seeking out the shell servo to top up every container of fuel and tanks we could. A quick visit to the police station gave us the info that we do not need to report to them anymore, they recomend informing friends and if something happens, then ring them. So, with no reason to hang around, we headed south! 16 ks out of town, we turned left and hit the dirt! The road is actually not too bad, patches of corrugations, but overall pretty good. The sunset arrives pretty quickly in these parts, so about 4pm, we started looking for a spot to camp. As usual, there was no-where! A few dead-end tracks proved no good, so we kept going. Finally, around 5pm, we seen a parking area and pulled into a lovely little tree covered area with two perfect places to camp! Lovely! Two others, both camper trailers, have pulled in as well, but well away. Really cold tonight...